CBS Sports names Micah Parsons the NFL’s No. 1 linebacker for 2022

Award another accolade to Cowboys phenom Micah Parsons. The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year is aiming to build on his extinct 2022, and he’ll have him ranked as the league’s top linebacker, according to CBS Sports.

To create the list, Jordan Dajani looked at not only the stats compiled by each player so far, but also the approximate Pro Football Reference/Stathead value, PFF ratings, as well as an estimate of the player’s performance at the tournament. ‘coming.

Parsons tops the list at his position, landing just ahead of last year’s leader Bobby Wagner of the Rams. Indianapolis’ Darius Leonard, San Francisco’s Fred Warner and Saints’ Demario Davis round out the top five.

Of Parsons, Dajani writes:

“Parsons is versatile, intelligent and instinctive. You don’t do what he did in his rookie season if you’re not a star.

“The Penn State product ranked No. 6 in the NFL in sacks and No. 8 in total pressures…Versatility is needed at linebacker, and his versatility is why Parsons comes in at No. 1 on our list.”

But wait, some eagle-eyed observers may wonder. What about TJ Watt, Defensive Player of the Year last season? And Von Miller? Joey Bosa?

These players, along with others officially listed as linebackers, actually make an entirely different roster. Today’s shifting defenses blur the line between traditional linebacker and defensive rusher more than ever, with many players — including Parsons last season — moving back and forth with often confusing fluidity.

For the purposes of the CBS Sports ranking, “peak defensemen include rushing defensive ends and linebackers.” Players are sorted by where the majority of their snaps were played in 2021; 3-4 pass runners went with linemen rushing to the edges.

Parsons remained with the linebackers, although Dajani admitted:

“We wondered if Parsons should even be included in this list since he played quite a bit of a pass-rusher last season, but the bottom line is that Parsons is a great linebacker who can wear many different hats on defense.”

“Parsons actually finished No. 12 among linebackers in 2021 with a 70 PFF coverage rating in 295 coverage snaps. If you go back and watch him play throughout his rookie season, you’ll see not only a talented passing thrower, but also a good linebacker who can read and react quickly. A defender who can blast screen plays and do takedowns in the open.

This ability to play both linebacker and rusher — and to do both at an exceptionally high level — has been the biggest revelation of the Cowboys’ 2021 season.

And even before the team packed their lockers after their playoff loss to the 49ers, Dallas coaches knew they’d want to try and do more of the same with Parsons in 2022.

“The biggest thing he’s going to have to get used to is the changes people are making for him,” Mike McCarthy said in January. “It’s a targeting challenge for an offense. This ability to move it. Any player in this league will attest to that. Once you’re successful, people will study the movie and have a plan for you.

When you have the goal of a #1 ranking on your jersey, it becomes even harder to repeat that success.

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